Spelling Again won a narrow victory over tough luck challenger Cali Star in Saturday’s Grade 2 $250,000 Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park. The win not only earned her a nice share of the purse but also an all expenses paid entry into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
The Grade 2 Princess Rooney was one of two marquee races on Gulfstream’s ‘Summit of Speed’ card along with the Grade 2 Smile. Both events offer the so called ‘Win and You’re In’ incentive for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup. Trainer Brad Cox is excited about having the opportunity to race in the Breeders’ Cup but isn’t ready to commit to the race: “Honestly, I’m kind of a one race at a time kind of guy. We’ll decide not so much where but when she’ll run next by how she’s doing. Whether she runs in the Breeders’ Cup will be totally up to her as well. It just depends on how she’s doing if we go that far with her.”
Spelling Again is the five year old daughter of Awesome Again bred in Pennsylvania. She has a career record of 6-3-5 in 20 starts and earnings of over $500,000. She had struggled against stakes competition in her previous races this season–she finished 7th against Grade 1 challengers at Keeneland earlier this year and could do no better than third in three graded stakes events at Churchill Downs. She shipped down to Gulfstream Park middle of last week along with Birdatthewire. Birdatthewire was the favorite in the race and finished third.
Cali Star caught a really tough break or she could have won the race. She swung wide at the start of her stretch run but was gathered in nicely. With the narrow margin of victory it’s clear that the bobble cost her the victory. Jockey Luis Saez was happy with his trip but was well aware of the challenge from Cali Star: “It was a good set-up. She had a great trip. She broke good and she was right there. She was always very comfortable. I had a little pressure early, but I knew I had enough horse. When she came to the stretch she kept running. I got nervous—that other horse was flying—but I knew I just had to ride harder. And we got it.”